Nigeria must lead Africa to adopt Mbeki report on illicit financial flows, says ActionAid

Ahead of the presentation of the final report of the Thabo Mbeki Panel on illicit financial flows at the ongoing summit of African Union, AU, ActionAid Nigeria has called on the Nigerian government to play a leading role in ensuring the adoption and implementation of the recommendations in the report.

The anti-poverty civil society group said in Abuja on Saturday that this was the only way to rid Nigeria and other African economies of the menace of illicit financial flows.

At the 4th Joint Annual Meetings of the African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development at the AU Economic Commission for Africa Conference in March 2011, Resolution L8 was adopted, mandating the establishment of a high level panel, HLP, headed by the former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, to assess the impact of illicit financial flows on the continent’s economy.

Specifically, the mandate of the panel included the review of the complex and long-term implications of illicit financial flows on development.

The panel was to also sensitize African governments, citizens and international development partners on the scale of illicit financial flows and its effect on development.

The panel was equally expected to propose policies as well as mobilize support for practices that would help reverse the illicit financial outflows trend in Africa.

Despite being one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of hydrocarbon, Nigeria has remained one of the worst places where poverty and corruption are ravaging the economy and the citizenry.

Concerned about the impact of illicit financial flows on the African economy, ActionAid Nigeria called on the Nigeria government and the country’s delegation to the 24th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to support the adoption of the recommendations of the Mbeki Panel report.

The ActionAid Nigeria Country Director, Hussaini Abdu, identified Nigeria among the countries severely affected by illicit financial flows in the world, saying the situation demanded urgent and decisive action if poverty is to be eradicated.

Mr. Abdu, who said Nigeria was losing about $15.746 billion (N2.645trillion) annually as a result of illicit financial flows, called on the Federal Government to be in the vanguard of countries and groups demanding that the Mbeki report be received by the African leaders and acted upon.

“In view of the huge impact of illicit financial flows on the Nigerian economy, especially at this time when the country’s major revenue source, the crude oil money, has been eroded, it is time Nigeria takes the lead in ensuring that the Mbeki Panel Report is received by Africa’s Heads of Government and their Finance Ministers.” Mr. Abdu said.

The ActionAid Country Director appealed specifically to the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to compel the 8th Joint Annual Meetings of the African Union Conference of Ministers of the Economy and Finance, and ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to develop an action plan on the implementation of the recommendations of the report.

The AUC-ECA meeting is scheduled for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia between March 25 and 31.

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